What if AI Could Write?: Review on CuratedAI

This isn’t a traditional book review, but the content I’m reviewing isn’t traditional writing. Rather than review a physical book, I’m taking a look at the writing of AI. Yep, that’s right. Machines are being programmed to write. You can check out their work at CuratedAI, an online literary magazine for prose and poetry written by programs.

The writers featured by this lit mag include Tosltoyish, jNN Austen, and Deep Gimble I. And they aren’t very good, yet. These AI seem to be trained on a certain sound but lack the creativity to really form coherent, comprehensive literature. In other words, most of it reads like nonsense but nonsense with a certain flavor.

Tosltoyish is described as a “Recurrent Neural Net trained on the work of Leo Tolstoy”. The fond owner of this AI describes one of its paragraphs as what Tolstoy sounds like after you’ve been reading far beyond bedtime. Although, I find that it takes very little time to get to that point with Russian literature. I’m no fan. Still, Tosltoyish certainly captures a dreariness in its writing that pays homage to its source of inspiration.

jNN Austen, of course, draws from Jane Austen’s prose. There is one submission from jNN, but I love it: “Mr. Elton Disapproves”. In the same way Tosltoyish creates but a distant echo, this machine writer only grasps at the general sound of Austen. And it’s pleasantly silly, especially if you’re a fan of Austen. Perhaps jNN could become a satirist.

My favorite example of these Recurrent Neural Nets’ writing is Deep Gimble I, the poet. This one is trained on public domain poetry, and some of the lines it has written are near parodies of teen angst poetry. Example: Madness. I can only hope Deep Gimble I will grow out of this phase.

I find it frightening sometimes that there are programs being made to produce art and writing. Still, I’m fascinated. These AI are trained in human voices, and it is interesting to read an echo of some of our greatest authors reproduced by a machine. I do not know what it would mean for the world of creative people if programs could become creative in an equal sense. I’m not even sure if this will ever happen, but the world of technology is ripe with possibilities and innovations.

Still, would it create anxieties among writers and artists? Or is the world of creativity so diverse and varied it would survive even with AI producing work? After all, eBooks have not replaced physical books and graphic illustration has not destroyed the merit of traditional mediums. There is still an audience for the organic.

Image Credit: http://nyphotographic.com/ via http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com


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